Writing over speaking any day and anytime, but there are times you have to relate what you’ve written to people which leaves you no choice but to master the art of public speaking. I realized I had to get used to public speaking when I was in the University while running my first degree, with group presentations. I’d bury my head in the paper and read all through, LOL. If marks were awarded for communicating in its real sense with the audience, I’d have none. Presenting group assignments required a little reading & lots of explanation which I was never willing to give in front of everyone, writing my explanations would have been fine. But I guess that’s part of the learning process- Being able to speak with confidence.
I had it in mind, I had to master & get used to public speaking after graduation due to my line of career, but I wasn’t just determined to do so, Not until I was settled back in my parents’ church. The third Sunday in every month was dedicated to the youths. They get to lead the church service, from the Praise/Worship session to the sermon. Some got to mount the altar and minister in spiritual songs or word which I was opportuned to do for the first time. Prior to that, I had “rehearsed” all I would say & prayed to God to help, a little dose of confidence set in and I was ready to mount the podium. Immediately I held the microphone, I was jittery and felt like peeing! LOL, trust me, it wasn’t funny really. My voice started shaking even though my mom claimed she didn’t notice (which made me happy).
You know what I’ve observed about this, the words I rehearsed disappear when I pick the microphone, maybe its tension, I can’t say, the words would just find their way out of my head and then I speak as the words come. That made me understand rehearsing words don’t really help, its better to just flow as it comes. I was beginning to enjoy myself and felt I was good at public speaking not until about two months ago, my assignment was to relate the announcements to the congregation, this time I had things to read but without any form of gesticulation. I was called after the church service by a youth director and he had a lot to say. He made it clear that I did well (which I felt was just a way to make me feel good about what he had to say), then he continued with “but…” which I was expecting anyway. All he said are the useful tips for public speaking which are:
- Make eye contact with the audience “one by one”.
I really needed to be told this, I was one of the people that used “looking above people`s heads” as an escape mechanism. The belief is that it would help curb the timidity to a reasonable extent, trust me, I have made use of this style so well. I had no idea it was not good enough though, I mean, is it not just my words they wanna hear? But my eye contact is effective. Give a gaze through a sentence and then move to another person. This helps to create a kind of communication between you and the audience, You speak with them rather than speak to them.
- Don’t rush through your words.
You’d find yourself speaking fast when you’re tensed up or somewhat timid. Speak deliberately slow but don’t make that obvious. I’m certain the audience will prefer you slow rather than being fast so they can pick your words. They wanna listen to what you have to say, carefully speak ensuring they assimilate all you say.
- Don’t be so quick to speak.
This is different from the previous point. When you walk out on stage, take a deep breath & get your balance before you speak, this portrays some kind of confidence and the fact that you’re in charge of situation.
- Show forth an attitude to give out.
This especially is for people selling products or services, don’t appear like you want all you can get from your audience which will even leave them with no choice but to go after your product or service.
- Say “Thank You” when you’re done.
I’m quite good at this though and it will sound somehow louder than all I have said. They’ve given you their time and attention and you should be grateful for that.
Have you ever had to speak to a large group of people? How was it like? What tips would you add to the list?